Friday, October 22, 2010

Kindergarten refugee

Imagine you are a mother fleeing with your child from the fighting in Congo.  You really want to go to Canada but somehow arrived in Hong Kong.  With help from Christian Action, an NGO, you are applying to the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to be classified as a refugee, and resettlement in Canada. 

While your application is being processed by the UNHCR, the Hong Kong Government allows you to stay in Hong Kong.  But you are not allowed to work.  Hence you can only survive on handouts from organizations such as Christian Action.  Your five-year-old child have to attend kindergarten, otherwise her education will suffer irreparable damage.  You really want to send her to an international kindergarten that teaches in English.  But it will cost at least 3,000 HK dollars per month, and there is no way to come up with that kind of money.  The only viable option is to send her to a local kindergarten that teaches in Chinese.  There the fees are lower and Christian Action can help you apply for a subsidy from the government. 

Your child speaks no Chinese.  Fortunately she learns fast.  But you don’t speak Chinese either, and you don’t learn as fast as your child.  You cannot even read the notices sent by the kindergarten.  Your child struggles, and so do you.  The people at Christian Action are overwhelmed with the hundreds of people the are helping, and they really cannot help with your child’s studies.  What can you do?

Wouldn’t it be nice if some kind-hearted soul would come to tutor your child and you in Cantonese, and help with at least some of your more critical encounters with Chinese?

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